It began with something called a ‘happy planner’ that promised to keep me on track with my life goals list. The year, that is – I started off so well, planning ahead in my bright yellow hard-covered book that’s trimmed with gold and artistically decorated with beautiful landscape photography.
All my goals, neatly listed, poised for New Year’s success. Maybe you relate?
The un-happiness of a life goals list
I spent time working through my planner’s activities which included noting intentions, and rating my happiness in various areas of life with a view to taking action on anything that felt lacking. On a glance back, I see I also filled in the ‘reverse bucketlist’ pages, where instead of writing down all the things I wish to achieve, I listed those things I was already proud of accomplishing (a very nice activity, if you need a boost today).
While I did initially make the most of my ‘happy planner’, it has actually been sitting on top of a pile of half-read books since May!
The bright yellow HAPPY cover serves as a reminder each morning of the possibilities ahead. But in the evenings, it came to prompt panic over all I’d intended to do but not yet acted upon.
According to the internet, this is now a thing – ‘FOMOMG’ (fear of missing out [on] my goals).
What on earth is FOMOMG?
What to do then, if we feel like we’re not where we intended to be now? That is, if we haven’t saved the money we wanted to, got the job, bought the house, discovered the romance, finished (or started) a project we’d hoped to have in hand.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and like we’re missing out, and some might agree it’s especially so at this time of year. Keen to not fall victim to this so-called FOMOMG, I resolved to lessen the pressure I admitted placing on myself.
Types of goal setting, not goal-setting or indeed not giving a f*ck!
I’ve been reading some of Sarah Knight’s work – she’s the author of the No F*cks Given guides and presenter of a TED talk on the ‘magic of not giving a f*ck’ that’s reached over four million people. Clearly, many are curious to know if it’s ok to shed our excess ‘stuff’, and Sarah’s now famous for spreading the word on how to let go of things you really don’t need to care about.
Akin to decluttering your home, we’re encouraged to do the same with our minds. You can start this today by writing down a list of all the things that are taking up space in your head, then carefully considering which items you don’t need to care about. Really. For example, are you worrying that you’re not as caught up in your career as your friends are (well apparently, according to Instagram)? Let it go. It’s likely to work out the moment you begin to clean up your thoughts and focus on the things that truly matter.
Life goals to set for yourself: choose wonder not worry
I’ve also been dipping into Amber Rae’s Choose Wonder over Worry (another one stashed in my bedside pile of books). She helpfully points out that it’s not the things we don’t care about that are hard to let go of, but it’s letting go of all those things we DO want to achieve, plan for or create, that is so hard. To choose ‘wonder over worry’, means doing just that – letting some of the stress and pressure go, and focussing on the thing that is the most important to you.
Looking ahead, it’s time for me – and you, perhaps – to find joy in the moment. Embrace, don’t stress, over your dreams and goals.
Make time for a festive break; consider the good in your world, and your achievements; play with your kids or pets; focus on ONE thing you’re looking forward to pursuing next year. Let go of the clutter and embrace with me the understanding that setting goals is one thing, but realising those goals can change is the real key to happiness.
How do you see it – do you set goals anymore, or focus on intentions? I’d love to know – please drop me a line in the comments.
First published in the December 2018 issue of Get it Magazine, getit-magazine.com.au
I regularly share thoughts in Australia’s Get it Magazine, and this month it turned out to be high time to try a new exercise routine which is how I discovered the benefits of Reformer Pilates. If you’re looking to start a new exercise class and lacking confidence to get going, maybe my story will help you.
The benefits of Reformer Pilates: starting from scratch
Neatly drafted under the date ‘December 31, 2017’ (a good ten months ago), are a few resolutions for the year to come, including one that jumps out at me now, ‘join an exercise class’.
It’s something I wanted to try because classes have provided me with positive fitness structure in the past. I remember that first week back in January, keenly researching suitable options like dance, Barre, and the benefits of Reformer Pilates – things I was never game to try.
I was geared-up to get along to the initial sessions of the year, believing all newbies would start then too.
As the hour drew near however, the internal dialogue began: ‘Good God, you’re too old to join a dance class!’; ‘You won’t even make it through the first ten minutes without needing a sit-down and a bucket of water’; ‘Imagine how awesome everyone else looks in their designer active-wear (and how idiotic I’ll look in my eBay specials)’.
I panicked, realising exactly how many years it’s been since I survived a group fitness class, let alone be in the routine of attending.
For the past year I’ve maintained independent gym visits when I can, walks and Yoga, but I’m aware the body gets used to repetitive activities and we start to see that our efforts don’t really reap rewards. Something must change, although I’d still not gone to a class!
Getting to class and discovering the benefits of Reformer Pilates
Cooper – my fitness-fan, fun-loving other half, bit his tongue for the past year. I’ve only just learnt he’s reluctant to divulge certain truths to me. Apparently about five years into this 17-year thing we have going on, he told me he didn’t think a shirt I was wearing out one night suited me.
The wrath that ensued meant he thinks twice before sharing such insight. Of course, despite me having no recollection of said event, I insisted I’ve grown since then, and promised that honesty is the right way. (probably).
He proceeded to share a flyer found at his gym promoting a special deal on Reformer Pilates classes, reminding me that I had been interested to get into a class activity. The proposal was positively received (much to Cooper’s relief).
Reformer Pilates had always been something I knew would be beneficial, garnering similar results as Ballet which I loved, well, until I was 16. But the idea of figuring out the ‘apparatus’ (a ‘bed’ attached to springs that move a carriage along the bed’s frame – thought about too deeply, it may resemble a form of torture depicted in The Tudors), freaked me out.
Finding confidence to give a new class a go
In a headspace to give something new a go though, I signed up for a 10-class pass.
The beauty of this situation, for me at least, is that I need to use the class passes within a certain time-frame, must book the sessions in advance, and if I bail at the last minute (typical ‘me’) I lose the investment, because these come with a 48-hour cancellation rule. Seems I’m motivated by money, or loss of it, so I show up!
The first class was challenging, but not intimidating as I’d feared. The instructor set up my reformer, and explained each exercise, as has been the case in subsequent classes.
I left that first time with wobbling and shaking sensations in muscles I didn’t know existed! I still go to each class with excuses in my head about why I’m too tired, too busy and too uncoordinated to attend, but there’s something new going on now. I know for sure, that at the end of each class I’ll be glad I went.
After about five weeks I noticed the benefits of Reformer Pilates showing up – some nice tone, which has led to body-confidence I thought was long gone.
Full disclosure, I’m just back at work following a break of nearly two weeks, and I’m aware I need to leave my wine-loving-holiday-happy vibe behind and return to a healthier lifestyle. That said, I’m proud I pushed myself through significant years-old blocks to embrace something that works for me, now. Make or break your habits, one step (or class) at a time – studies show it’s how we genuinely accommodate new, better behaviours. I feel I’m finally there, and I’ve signed up for more! It’s not torture, really.
Are you a convert on the benefits of Reformer Pilates or do you have tips on starting any new exercise class? It’s daunting, I know! Please do share your insight in the comments below.
First published in the September 2018 issue of Get it Magazine, getit-magazine.com.au
I regularly share thoughts in Australia’s Get it Magazine, and this month I cover the importance of professional development the the role networking plays in this.
I’ve shed insight on how to introduce yourself professionally and make the most out of your time at conferences and business events to get your career where you’d like it to be.
The importance of professional development – how to introduce yourself professionally: the conference
The packed conference room was buzzing with excited energy. The popularity of the break-out session I’d just witnessed had obviously been underestimated. People were sitting and standing in every free space.
I, like all the attendees, had been impressed by the generosity of the speakers who hadn’t held back on sharing wisdom about their business success strategies.
Dazzled, I simply had to meet them!
I lined up with other inspired folk at the end of the session to say hello. When it was my turn to swiftly meet-and-greet, I spoke but a few words, handed over a business card and scurried off.
Significant networking fail. NOT a lesson in how to introduce yourself professionally or beneficially at an event.
Networking doesn’t have to be scary. Be prepared
We’re coming into our final quarter of the year. With so much on the horizon including conferences, events and a host of opportunities proving the importance of professional development, there’s a good chance you might find yourself in a situation like this. I’m here to urge you to make it work for you (better than I made it work for me).
There’s no doubt that networking fast-tracks the opening of career and business doors. This happens through:
– the gaining of new tips to improve your work
– learning that accelerates growth
– finding customers or a new job
– making friends or discovering people who become future business partners, mentors and collaborators.
Yet, many of us cringe at the very thought of networking.
When we finally get ourselves in front of the crowd, we’re often ill-prepared, shy and take the wrong approach.
I soak up conferences (I especially love TBEX for travel content creators)! I love the learning and the inspiring presenters. I have always known the networking component is seriously valuable, but for many years I’ve made the errors referenced above.
When running my own business, I had to get stuck into the networking game, faking it ‘til I made it, so to speak.
For every person I met, I had a chance to discover how I might add value to what they were working on, and critically, much of that led to paid business.
How to make the most of a conference or event and introduce yourself professionally
It’s easy to slip into shy/tired/straight-up complacency though. This is where you hang out with the same people, get caught scrolling emails on your phone, feel stuck for conversation, or march right on in there with your business card.
Shamefully, I’ve done it all.
But, here’s my intention for us from now on:
be open to opportunity.
Make it your mission to connect with new people at each event you go to. Get to know them on a personal level.
Rather than only talking business, see if you can discover what hobbies, work, people, heroes, background or interests you have in common.
Ask questions, be interested, helpful, and listen some more.
If you have a few conversation-starters up your sleeve, that inevitably improves confidence when you approach someone new in a room.
Try things like ‘what brings you here today’, or ‘what are you working on that you’re most excited about right now’?
Another element I’ve always struggled with is getting my story right. You know, the ‘30 second elevator pitch’ thing!
I have always found it hard to articulate. Probably because I never crafted nor practised it – which is the final important bit of advice I wish to impart.
Instead of stating your job title when you meet new people, try sharing who you serve, what problem you solve, how you solve it and what results you’ve achieved.
For example: ‘I serve business owners by helping them produce high quality, creative digital content and this year already I’ve helped more than 45 brands reach their audience and engagement goals within six months of working with me’.
Over to you…
What emphasis do you put on the importance of professional development?
Make the best of what’s ahead this year, raise your profile and develop connections (offline, initiated via email, and online) that take you closer to your goals.
There’s no time like the present!
Keep in mind too, it’s only human to feel shy, reserved, or unsure of what to say.
Be honest about it – you can be certain others know the feeling well!
How do you see it? Share in the comments below.
More info on businesses mentioned in this blog – check out TBEX here, and Get it Magazine here.
First published in the August 2018 issue of Get it Magazine, getit-magazine.com.au
Get your goals for professional development in order by taking charge now, and being your own superhero.
Superhero status: make your goals for professional development happen
There was a time, not so long ago, when I was very unhappy at work. I felt ungrateful for having an attitude about it – I was respected, well paid, there was potential for progression, I had friends in the office and was working on an important national campaign.
However, the energy around me was low and my days lacked purpose. I’d lost sight of my goals for professional development and felt pretty down about it all. I’m a planning type of person!
I felt powerless and constantly worried. Regardless of the good points, I knew the sinking pit in my stomach told me the truth of the matter. I needed to either suck it up and get on without complaint, or to make a change.
As I came to this realisation, the business underwent a restructure and suddenly fresh opportunities emerged. I had my eye on one role that really suited my personality and skills. It felt like something I’d be passionate about. Could it be my time?
I hesitated on applying though – word in the corridors was that the role was tagged for another colleague.
I held on this for a good few weeks, while feeling disillusioned in my current position. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to put my hand up for the opportunity, but worried about competing with colleagues and how I would show up if I didn’t succeed. I had not been in this kind of spot before.
Somewhere along my life journey – early on, fortunately – I learnt to pursue the path of happiness. If I knew a situation was not right for me, I would make an often-uncomfortable short-term shift for the long-term good. Change is never easy and usually comes with associated risk, but I’ve always optimistically (possibly naively) just gone for it.
Armed with that attitude, I mustered the courage to speak to the manager hiring for the role, only to discover he had gone on leave that very day, for three weeks! ‘Maybe it’s a sign’, I thought, heading back to my desk feeling dejected.
About six weeks later, I heard a murmur that my colleague set to go for the job I was interested in, simply left – walked out one day, barely a goodbye was said. That was my sign.
I launched out of my chair, invisible superhero cape dramatically blazing behind me, and marched straight up to the hiring manager to arrange a meeting.
I was nervous about the chat, figuring I’d have to explain my situation and that he would judge me. For what, I know not. As it turned out, he was very supportive and helped me see that it was absolutely fine to want a change.
I officially took the risk and applied for the job. Only one trusted colleague was privy to my plans, and I had to negotiate a special time (and reason) to get out of work to go and interview in the same building for two hours.
The situation was stressful, certainly, but it was more the stress you feel when taking a chance on something that’s worth trying for. As in, the very opposite of how I had been feeling. That’s when I realised, proudly, that I’d taken back my power.
Applying for that job was quite terrifying. I potentially faced humiliation, regret and ongoing awkwardness. That said, none of these things came close to how powerless I would have felt if I had carried on with things as they were. By some happy miracle, I got the job, and my instinct had been right – it was perfect for me.
I tell you this story now, because we’re coming to the end of the year, when inevitably we reflect on areas of life where we may want a superhero to step in and save the future.
We’re often asked what super power we would choose, like invisibility or the ability to fly.
I’m into this though: the power to make myself happy; the power to make my own decisions and the power to shape my own goals for professional development.
Muster a little determination and the willingness to see things differently, and you too – cape or not – can save your world.
First published in the December 2017 issue of Get it Magazine, getit-magazine.com.au
I’m having the Last Word in Get it Magazine – this month I reflect on lessons learnt about the real value of getting fit. –Sarah
My man, Cooper, has told me − affectionately of course − that I resemble a dachshund when I run. You know, a ‘sausage dog’; a cute one, I’m assured. He knows me well, which makes this quite funny because it’s probably true.
I’ve never loved the gym, and I am not a runner (I have been known to jog into Uncle Dan’s though). My aversion to running started way back in grade one. Six years old and attending a small school in Cairns, cane fields rustling in the breeze out the back, all of us were marched onto the oval to run. All the way around in the heat. I hated it. Right there the stubborn Taurean was officially born, and unfortunately for all PE teachers to come, I was to be the one they’d never convince.
My wise mum got me involved in something she knew I’d like – ballet. It was my extra curricula thing. Sadly, at 16 it became apparent my ankles didn’t have the strength, so I took up tennis. I enjoyed it, especially when I discovered I could win by perfecting my serve to ace my opponent, eradicating the need to, you guessed it – run! Resourceful, I am.
Let’s be honest, most of us especially when we are young, care not for fitness but about how we look. I thought I was blessed with a fast metabolism and the ability to eat anything (Muffin Break treats daily and Uni dinners of pasta, cheese and tomato sauce – fail, fail). If the skirt didn’t fit right, I’d go on a walk every morning for a couple of weeks and be fine. That didn’t last.
I was lucky to have Cooper to encourage me all these years. He’s an all-round fitness nut (my opposite). I’ve dipped in and out of gym, Body Combat, Yoga, Body Balance, walking, Barre; I’ve tested fitness classes, diets and supplements, achieving varying degrees of satisfaction. Drudgery, all with the aim of gaining some kind of ‘perfection’. Until I realised that it’s not just about what I look like. Slow-learner, I am.
While I’m sharing wisdom, here’s what else I found out along the way: long term weight maintenance happens because we make better choices and exercise more often than not. Also, active life = good mood, feeling motivated and inspired. So simple!
Recently I saw Andrea Corbett share her moving story. She’s ranked in the top five international female body builders in the world. A former school teacher, she told of how she hit a majorly tough spot in her life and was living on anti-depressants. She didn’t want it to be like that, and following a serendipitous turn of events she says, “I found body-building, and it saved my life”. Her mantra hit home: fitness means looking and feeling good.
I gathered a group of girlfriends to grill them on the topic, and we concluded that without a doubt some (not all, obviously) periods of depression in our lives have coincided with a lack of exercise and unhealthy life choices.
I am a spectator at heart. A very good one too. Once, my friend Julie and I turned up to a footy game to cheer Cooper on, feeling proud for being there in the first place, only to realise we were watching the wrong game. #girlfriendfail
I am a better spectator than athlete. But, despite the foot-stomping, procrastinating and initial disinterest in the gym, this ‘spectator’ does finally get the true meaning of living a fit life. Sexy, skinny selfies might be cool, but now and in the long term, the value in getting healthy is really about the happiness payoff. That’s the advice I share with my younger friends, and the experience I discuss with contemporaries. It’s never too late to get active, to find something you enjoy doing and make it a habit. I’ve just spotted an ad for ‘swing fit’ in my neighbourhood (swing dancing, to be clear). Health. Happiness. Fabulous. It seems running may not even be required.
Read the September issue of Get it Magazine